Betty was so ashamed of the $100s of dollars a week she was losing at the poker machines. She could not face up to telling her husband and children, so she started stealing goods and hocking them to pay for the debts.
Bill would lose his $100s at the race track or TAB and he would not own up to his wife when she asked why so much money was disappearing from the joint accounts.
Shame often prevents people from admitting their gambling addictions.
There is no easy way to break through the shame barrier except by confronting the issue gently. The spouse who sees the money disappearing should speak with the partner. If there is no admission, it is recommended that the spouse contact a gambling help counsellor to develop strategies to keep finances secure.
I recall a problem gambler who told me that he was forced to admit to his problem when his wife and a counsellor “conspired to starve me of my finances” (his language).
Basketball superstar, Michael Jordan, told an interviewer on USA “60 Minutes” that he was ashamed how he allowed betting to take over his life:
“I’ve gotten myself into (gambling) situations where I would not walk away and I’ve pushed the envelope. But my drive to win is so great I just step over that line. It’s very embarrassing. One of the things you totally regret. So you look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘I was stupid.'”
For every problem gambler, there are 5-10 other people affected.